New Delhi: Three days after claiming that there was no question of gain or loss in coal block allocation as the coal has not been mined, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday said the government never used the term "zero loss".
"None of us used the phrase zero loss. Nevertheless, a section of the press has incorrectly reported that government claimed that there was zero loss in the allocation of coal blocks," Chidambaram said in a written statement.
"In fact, what I said was: If coal is not mined, if coal remains buried in mother earth, where is the loss. The loss can arise only if one tonne of coal is taken out of mother earth and sold at some unacceptable price or value," he said.
In a joint press conference with Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal and Law and Justice Minister Salman Kurshid, the finance minister had said Friday that the notion of presumptive loss by the official auditor in the coal block allocation was flawed.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said in its report that the lack of transparency in the allocation of coal blocks to private players had resulted in the loss of a whopping Rs 1.85 lakh crore (USD 37 billion) to the exchequer.
Chidambaram said he was wrongly quoted by a section of media.
"I said question of loss or gain arises only in respect of coal actually mined from any of the 57 blocks. If the coal is not being mined, there is no question of a gain or a loss. That is what I said. So please quote me accurately," the finance minister said.